Chesspolitik [4p.1]: Game Over & AAR's

First session of the four-player version of a new variant mashup of Chess and Diplomacy. Created & GM'd by NoPunIn10Did.

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Chesspolitik [4p.1]: Game Over & AAR's

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 29 Apr 2019, 15:32

Chesspolitik: Game Over
Chesspolitik for Four Players, Session One

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Game Over
The first-ever game of Chesspolitik has ended in a draw. Per the House Rules for this game, I will now present a list of players ranked by SC count and years of elimination.

  1. Mughal Empire: Starkadder - 13 SCs
  2. Ming Dynasty: Dipideedawg (replacing Sinnybee) - 11 SCs
  3. Ottoman Empire: GhostEcho - 8 SCs
  4. Tsardom of Russia: willie23 - 0 SCs (eliminated 1608)

Thanks to everyone for trying out this variant. It was fun to GM, and it was actually difficult to guess what any given player would do next.

AAR's
Feel free to post feedback and After-Action Reports in this thread. I will post a transcript of some of the public chatter from Discord here as well.

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Re: Chesspolitik [4p.1]: Game Over & AAR's

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 29 Apr 2019, 15:34

Discord Transcript

NoPunIn10Did Last Saturday at 5:47 PM
@everyone
The game has ended in a draw.

Ajax (FyreNinja)Last Saturday at 5:50 PM
gg all

StarkAdder Last Saturday at 7:01 PM
Thanks to @NoPunIn10Did , best GM ever, and to my fellow check-mates. Sorry we had to bump you off @willie23 , and thanks to @DipideeDawg for filling in so well with Ming and to @GhostEcho for being an good ally until (almost) the end

DipideeDawg Last Saturday at 8:15 PM
@Players. I enjoyed the game, even as a replacement. Of course, realized the situation I was in, which was not that good. Not fatal, but not good. @StarkAdder did a great job. @ghostecho was certainly a loyal ally (to Starkadder), at least until he finally realized how far along the Mughal Dynasty was! :smiley: . As a quickie variant, this ain't bad. Maybe we can have "team" play, as in Bridge, where the sight lines are more clearly defined? Permanent allies, so to speak.

willie23 Yesterday at 12:08 AM
@Players this was a lot of fun. I’ll be watching to play this again sometime. Maybe there are some improvements that can be made, but i couldn’t really say what. For sure a great idea. Thank you NoPun and fellow players

StarkAdder Yesterday at 7:43 AM
I concur with my fellow @Players. A great game (beautiful graphics too!) but unlike RW maps, no geographic quirks that give you safe areas or easy access so you can expand in other directions. I wouldn’t require team play like bridge, since the unexpected stab’s the thing, but I might suggest adding a third chess piece for extra variety, maybe the pawn, since its limited movement range would create natural obstacles, and maybe only one King that one has to protect well, as a successfully supported attack on it eliminates that player...just some ideas for @NoPunIn10Did to ponder. Thanks for a brilliant job GMing, No Pun.

GhostEcho Yesterday at 11:15 AM
Definitely an interesting variant idea. I'd play again sometime but probably not soon: the play's fascinating but the results are probably going to lack variety (a ton of 3-ways and the very occasional solo). Thanks to everybody for playing - sorry I wasn't more communicative/proactive. And thanks to NoPun for the idea & GMing.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 11:25 AM
Enriador is currently implementing it for vDip, so I’ll be interested to see what the results are there
I do think draw-sized scoring isn’t really a good approach for this game. Too little variety.

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 3:34 PM
@NoPunIn10Did . Maybe make this a solo-only variant?

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 4:11 PM
I think solo-only is unrealistic for almost any variant

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 10:22 PM
@NoPunIn10Did, Really? You might be right for many variants and Standard, but given the limited playing area of this variant and number of players, a solo-only game would likely bring forth quick conflict, hard-ball negotiation, and plenty of action. It would be like a Cage Match, winner take all. Play Big or Go Home. If nobody can get to a solo (and everybody agrees to this, as if for a Draw), the game ends with no winner, no Draw, and no "rating points". If there is a winner, than rating points are distributed according to the regular site rules. Thus, the variant's motivation is clearly on playing to win. So, why not give it a try?

NoPunIn10Did Today at 9:35 AM
I'd be willing to try something like that if there was a concrete year-limit to the game. GM-ing a game that is unlikely to end in a normal fashion can be really stressful.
There are other ways to encourage solo-oriented behavior other than making a game solo-only, though
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Re: Chesspolitik [4p.1]: Game Over & AAR's

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 30 Apr 2019, 18:40

clemj/Nanook Yesterday at 11:21 AM
In my limited experience, solo only games tend to end in resentful draws more often than in solos.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 11:27 AM
I've generally found that the best thing to do is to create setups wherein players in the lead aren't as likely to abandon the solo. That's often difficult when players come into games with a belief that smaller draw sizes are inherently better than larger draw sizes.
It leads to play that treats unscored games as if they were draw-sized-scored, eliminating players for the sake of reducing the final pool rather than actually serving one's path to victory
I'm not certain that's what happened here, and I tried to prevent that mentality with my house rules, but there's only so much I can do for a one-off game.
In scored games, orienting people to non-draw-sized systems can help immensely, as it doesn't create the sort of conflict-of-interest wherein a player has to decide whether they will aim specifically for a small draw or for the solo (since the paths to those results are usually quite dissimilar)
I have had some thoughts on adapting a "solos only" approach to fit within a zero-sum framework, but I'm not sure how well-received it would be
Basically, a soloist would receive 100% of the points. In a draw, every player, including all those eliminated, would split all points evenly.
e.g. a 7-way draw in classic, or a 4-way draw in this variant
It would be a lousy tournament scoring system.

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:07 PM
Yes, I agree with that point, but I wasn't thinking in terms of tournies but in terms of a ranked game on PD (and other sites) where rating points are an integral part of the site. My fear is that this would devolve into something like the 2-player variants, which may have some kind of value for tactics, but to me, they are little more than quick methods for increasing one's site rating. However, I'll grant you that some may simply enjoy the 2-player fight. Frankly, if I thought there was time to eek out a solo, I'd have gone for it, but StarkAdder was too close to victory to chase. In fact, I encouraged him to go for the solo, given his position. Not sure why he declined the offer.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:07 PM
2-player variants aren't rated on PD

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:08 PM
Oh, my mistake, then! But I did enjoy the game, by the way. A very interesting concept. How did you think it up?

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:08 PM
It was just something that came to me one day last year
It was mid-tournament, so I didn't do anything with it at that point
I just wanted to see what mixing Dip with Chess would look like
eventually landed on using Knights and Kings because they are the easiest analogues to Dip movement
since there's no intermediary spaces between origin and destination that can impact whether a move is legal

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:11 PM
Didn't there used to be (or still are) chess problems published featuring just Knights and Kings?

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:11 PM
possibly
I remember some puzzles in The Seventh Guest that involved knights, bishops, and queens

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:12 PM
By the way, what about increasing the board 1 square in each dimension without adding units? A little more emphasis on maneuvering to add to the mix.
Or does that dilute the action too much, in your opinion?

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:13 PM
That actually breaks the symmetry of the board

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:13 PM
Yes, well symmetry isn't everything...!

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:13 PM
I wanted this to be a variant where all four sides are exactly the same
there are plenty of asymmetric variants

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:14 PM
So 10x10?

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:15 PM
Possibly. The other advantage is that with having all the SCs be the dark squares, using the 8x8 board keeps the scale of the game similar to classic Dip
32 SCs to 64 spaces, versus 34 SCs to 75
And as for manueverability, each location is far more well-connected than it would be on a geographic map

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:17 PM
Right, though I was thinking more in the sense of drawing up lines of units, given the extra space, and mounting more combined attacks, within limits. Sort of like WWI assaults.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:18 PM
Not sure I follow you

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:19 PM
Hmmm, just thinking out loud. The extra squares would, in effect, be available and provide some extra buffer between the sides. This could enable a bit more time (in moves) for defensive and offensive plans to be put together.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:19 PM
Oh, and I was mistaken earlier: a 9x9 board wouldn't break symmetry
So more space to breathe rather than getting all wrapped up in one another?

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:21 PM
Yeah, it's a timing thing. Do we want instant conflict or a chance to show the colors, intimidate, or line up for action.
That's why I originally thought this would be an all-or-nothing variant: Somebody solos or everybody loses. This is similar to the early Republican scenario in the old Avalon Hill game, Republic of Rome: If too many active wars occur, everybody loses.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:23 PM
Gotcha. From a practical standpoint, the "everybody loses" condition is a pain without a time limit on the game

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:23 PM
Because of its size, your variant is going to go rather rapidly, enhancing the goal. Like a race.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:23 PM
Which I'd be fine with.

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:24 PM
Well, you can certainly put a time limit on the game, just like they do in tournaments.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:24 PM
On vDiplomacy, where it's being implemented, they have time limits as an option.
so players that wish to can stop the game after 10 years or whatever

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:25 PM
Right. I'd be interested in doing this as a solo-only test, just to see how it plays out. It certainly won't be everybody's cup of tea.
Still, it already has LOTS of action and the thinking quickly becomes complicated, trying to work out all of the combinations for all of the players. But that is part of the variant.
Okay, Alex. I've taken up enough of your time with my rambling. It's a very interesting variant and I'll be interested to see how it gets implemented and played. Say, how about optional "promotion" if one of your pieces gets on the last rank of the opposite side, as in regular chess? It could become a queen or bishop, for example.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:30 PM
So, an earlier version thought about that
the problem is that adjudicating moves for any pieces other than knights and kings is a pain
pawns might work, but they'd just be inferior kings
Because what would you do if someone moved into a position halfway along a bishop's path?

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:31 PM
Oh, I see what you mean.
Well, could that be like getting pinned, as in regular chess?

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:32 PM
knights and kings allow the variant to be a very, very vanilla setup rules-wise

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:32 PM
yeah, I understand the simplicity. No sense in making it even more complicated.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:32 PM
one thing I've learned in making variants is to be VERY careful messing with the adjudication algorithm

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:33 PM
So, do you do adjudications manually, or programmatically?

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:33 PM
manually, but I want them to make sense programmatically as well
because when that's the case, I'm more liable to think through the exceptions beforehand
rather than have to come up with them on the fly

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:34 PM
right. okay, enough from me, at least for now. Have a good evening and thanks again for the variant.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 9:34 PM
thanks for playing!

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 9:34 PM
my pleasure!

StarkAdder Today at 6:46 AM
I enjoyed this dialogue, as well as the game itself, I actually went for a solo at one point but realized that @DipideeDawg was a skilled opponent and that the other two players would be easily recruited to block a solo, and I had no “safe space” (except the bottom of the board) to allow aggressive moves the other way. So the only way to protect my frontline units was with allies.

SinnyBee suggested at game start that we all collectively go after the Ottomans/red. @willie23 was on board, so I joined in too on the premise that if they went after @GhostEcho they would not be going after me, it worked initially, and Red was on the ropes from the start. I noticed that SinnyBee was also chewing up Russia/Blue and getting large, so I tried to chip away at her SE corner. That broke our “truce” and she shifted to go after me.

Since Ming/Yellow was largest, I successfully recruited Blue and Red to join me against SinnyBee and I helped @GhostEcho make a comeback. It worked, and SinnyBee quit. Her replacement @DipideeDawg was even more talented. He did not get Red or Blue to shift against me, though he tried, but fought me to a tactical draw along our frontlines. Then he got @willie23 to join his cause, and my numbers started to decline. I suggested to him that we jointly take out Russia and go for a 3WD. As he noted in his remarks above, he asked why I didn’t go for a solo. I did the math and thought I might be able to reach my goal, but would likely lose Red as an ally if I tried, and I could not defend my frontline against coordinated attacks. I was also reminded by @NoPunIn10Did that I could only build on the first two home rows, per game rules, and my expansion was making it hard to get reinforcements to where I needed them.
At this stage we were close to stalemate, but @DipideeDawg suggested a truce while we all took out @willie23 and I agreed. It worked briefly and Blue was almost gone. I refrained from attacking Yellow, even when he probed me, but tried to position myself for a big assault as soon as Blue was gone.

In the endgame, Russia was eliminated, Ming took a few centers from me and I did the same to him, and then Red began to attack me. I did not feel I could defeat the two other players alone, so I proposed the final three-way draw. Congratulations to both @DipideeDawg and @GhostEcho for games for games well played, to @NoPunIn10Did for excellent DMing and for creating a fascinating game that demands another go, and to @willie23 for being a loyal though unfortunate longtime ally. This game was a lot of fun.
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Re: Chesspolitik [4p.1]: Game Over & AAR's

Postby VGhost » 01 May 2019, 03:52

A couple things quickly (adding 'em here rather than Discord, for posterity's sake):

Opening: I may do a full AAR eventually, but I wanted to mention this. Sinny (yellow) started, as best I could tell, by contacting everybody and offering a three-way vs. a neighbor to be selected. The obvious thing to do would have been to turn this around and target yellow first... only I literally didn't think of it. I stalled, because what I wasn't in the mood for was extra proof "he's out to get you", and I was confident in my defensive abilities to outlast any initial rush.

End conditions: as mentioned on Discord, I don't think the variant has a huge "replay value" for those who like Diplomacy, among other things, for the sheer variety of different results and ways to get there. And in this game, it really didn't bug me much to come in 3rd... the time (and effort) it would have taken to try to play the bigger powers against each other to slide into 2nd wasn't worth it. One idea I came up with to add tension to individual games, though, was this: the game ends when the first player is eliminated, and remaining powers are ranked by centers. I can immediately see problems (what if it gets to a position where nobody can be eliminated? what about solos?) but it's something I'd like to see tried, just out of curiosity.
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Re: Chesspolitik [4p.1]: Game Over & AAR's

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 01 May 2019, 20:55

Final notes from Discord

DipideeDawg Yesterday at 6:40 PM
@StarkAdder, you did a really great job. You kept me second-guessing and over-analyzing! I was constantly worried I would get sliced and diced by you and your loyal Ottoman ally. I do thank @willie23 for having the guts to ally with me (a mere replacement), instead of joining the other two in a Ming Massacre. Willie, your decision helped keep the Ming a potent force and I am a bit sorry I had to sacrifice your units in order to survive. But, I don't think I had a real choice at that point.

Anyway, I appreciate a good EOG statement, so thanks, StarkAdder, for clarifying your strategy and decision-making, which I found very interesting to read. All in all, this was a pretty good "first game" out of the chutes! I am happy to have watched it from the start and then happy to get to be a participant. I'm looking forward to its implementation as a regular game on the PD site.

NoPunIn10Did Yesterday at 6:59 PM
It probably won’t be on PD.
It should be on vDip though

StarkAdder Yesterday at 7:15 PM
Cheers, @DipideeDawg , and thanks for the kind words. I hope we meet on another gameboard soon.

DipideeDawgYesterday at 8:43 PM
@NoPunIn10Did, Not on PD? Ratz! As for you @StarkAdder StarkAdder, I'll be watching out.
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